Quick Links

Redskins are trying to catch a rising star

gibbs-post-super-bowl.png

Redskins are trying to catch a rising star

Bruce Allen and the Redskins are trying to accomplish one of the most difficult feats in all of sports.

They are trying to catch a rising star.

From looking at the head coaching candidates that we know about the most notable thing is a lack of notable NFL accomplishments. Jim Caldwell was the head coach of a Super Bowl team but, as certain politicians might say, he didn’t build that. Perry Fewell does have a Super Bowl ring he earned as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants and Rich Bisaccia has one from his days as the Bucs’ special teams coordinator. But, by and large, the group lacks hardware.

And while not all of the candidates are kids, only Mike Zimmer, who is 57, and 58-year-old Jim Caldwell are as old as Mike Shanahan was when he took the Redskins job four years ago. Jay Gruden, possibly the front runner, is 46. Sean McDermott won’t turn 40 until after free agency starts. James Franklin turns 42 next month.

The idea is simple, really. You find a coach who doesn’t necessarily have a fat resume but one who is high on energy, has leadership qualities, and has a vision for where he wants to take a football team. You make him your own and go on to accomplish great things together for the next 10 or 15 years.

Of course, that is much easier said than done. NFL teams (and other sports teams and, for that matter, businesses and organizations of all types) are constantly trying to identify and hire people who have not yet hit their peak and appear to have a very high ceiling.

The Redskins have tried this approach a couple of times in the last 30+ years. Joe Gibbs, who was 40 when the Redskins hired him in 1981, was the ultimate rising star. He was the offensive coordinator for some very good (but not champion) Chargers teams. But he worked under Don “Air” Coryell, a certified offensive genius. How much of the credit for the San Diego offense did he deserve?

But after trying to force the Coryell system onto the Redskins led to an 0-5 start to his career, Gibbs struck his own path, developed The Hogs, and won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks.

Norv Turner was 41 when the Redskins made him their head coach in 1994. He was thought to be the prototypical rising star after serving as the offensive coordinator on the Cowboys’ back to back Super Bowl champs. Needless to say, he did not work out as well as Gibbs.

Still, one has to wonder what might have happened if Turner had been set up as well as Gibbs in terms of player talent. He walked in the door and found Joe Theismann, John Riggins, Art Monk, Mark Moseley, Dave Butz, Monte Coleman, and a few other key pieces to the team’s first Super Bowl title. Turner came in to a team with Darrell Green and not much more.

It’s doubtful that Turner could have achieved what Gibbs did even if he had arrived to find the likes of Theismann and Monk. But we’ll never know if Joe Gibbs would have survived long enough to win three rings and become a legend had he come to Redskins Park with John Friesz, Heath Shuler, and Gus Frerotte at QB, Reggie Brooks at running back, and Desmond Howard at wide receiver.

So there is an element of good fortune in turning from a rising star into a consistent winner as a head coach. Whoever takes this job probably won’t have it as good as Gibbs did but an offensive core of Pierre Garçon, Trent Williams, Alfred Morris, and Robert Griffin III is a good place to start.

Both Gibbs and Turner came into a relative stable environment at Redskins Park. That word can’t be used to describe the state of things in Ashburn today.

So whether the Redskins find the next legend or the next Norv may not depend totally on the man they hire. But the wrong guy won’t be able to maximize whatever talent is there, so finding the right man comes first.

Quick Links

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.